I have a confession to make. I hide in the woods with books. A lot. I prefer to choose out of the way spots just off the beaten track so as not to be disturbed. Sometimes I bring my dogs with me, but never any people. I have even been known to camp out overnight with my books. While I am an avid reader, the majority of my time spent in the woods lately is spent either studying for my MBA or walking my dogs (or both!).
For the last two years while pursuing my MBA, I have spent as much of my study time as possible in the woods surrounding my home. The program that I am pursuing, through the University of Nevada-Reno, is offered exclusively online. This makes it very accessible to me while both working and living far from any major university. It is a condensed, intensive program that has required a lot of hard work and dedication. Fortunately for me, I found a way to study that enhanced the process and facilitated my learning.
As my undergraduate background is in environmental science, the majority of the classes in this MBA program were entirely new to me. I had a fair bit of on the job experience in most of the topics, but had never tackled them academically. From the very beginning, I understood the importance of what I was learning as I began to apply it at work. I firmly believe a large portion of my success in this program is due to my ability to apply virtually everything that I have been learning right away; as hard as it has been, it was a benefit to work full time and go to school full time!
However, I attribute another large portion of my success to the best ‘library’ for studying possible. The quiet of the woods is highly conducive for deep immersion in a text. Whatever the topic, it was easier to focus on what I was reading without being distracted. This leads to a deeper understanding and better retention of the material. I first noticed this during the first semester. In order to make the most of my limited time, I had stopped on the way home from work to read some of my accounting text. I was able to read the entire chapter fairly quickly and when I did that chapter’s homework, it was much easier.
Ever since then, I have done all of my assigned readings while sitting in the woods. I also find that writing is sometimes easier in the woods. Although it is sometimes faster when using a computer, at times, I can write quite a bit with just a pad of paper and a pen. A good first draft can be generated quickly if you just have a way to get the ideas down in writing. I now try to carry a pen and paper with me at all times, just in case!
By choosing a different space for studying, I was able to better focus my energy on the task at hand. I have also seen this principle in action at work. There is a soothing and healing power in nature. This is just one of the many reasons why at Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra we use outdoor recreation as a vehicle for healing and learning. So go on. Go outside! You might just learn something!